Hollywood Activists Urge Officials to Keep Counting Votes Amid Protests

Joe Biden and Donald Trump
Win McNamee/Getty Images; SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Kerry Washington, Jimmy Kimmel and Debra Messing were among those who took to social media to share unifying statements while ballots were being tabulated in key battleground states.

Late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, Hollywood stars continued to encourage election officials to count every vote in the 2020 election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden and expressed disappointment at reports of armed demonstrators in Arizona, which the Associated Press and other outlets called early Wednesday morning for Biden but is still counting votes.

Ava DuVernay retweeted a video report of protesters in Arizona and wrote, "Thugs," in what appeared to be a reference to President Trump's characterization of protesters in the racial justice demonstrations that took place earlier this year. Chuck D also called the Maricopa County protesters thugs, in a separate tweet. Mark Ruffalo tweeted video from protests in New York, where a report said they were being "attacked, beaten, kettled and shoved by NYPD" and wrote, "Cut to Arizona where there are armed white people threatening to disrupt counting votes and state volunteers. Not a damn thing happening to them. Priorities of America in total disarray."

While Trump supporters appeared to be encouraging ongoing counting in Arizona, in Michigan, there were reports of Trump supporters chanting "stop the count" outside of places where ballots were being tabulated.

Judd Apatow retweeted a video of protesters in both locations, with their differing chants, writing, "2020 in a nutshell."

And How I Met Your Mother co-creator Craig Thomas tweeted, "The Trump zombies chanting "Stop the count" don't even know why they're saying that. It's underpaid election workers painstakingly counting Americans' votes. That's what you're trying to subvert and that is FUCKED UP."

Meanwhile, comedian Sarah Cooper, who rose to fame with her TikTok takes on Trump, tweeted a video of people chanting "stop the count," writing, "Trump supporters protesting... *checks notes* ...democracy."

The AP called both Michigan and Wisconsin for Biden on Wednesday afternoon, with the Trump campaign filing legal challenges, asking in Michigan for better access for observers at locations where ballots were being processed and counted. Trump's campaign filed lawsuits Wednesday in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina are undecided but leaning red, while Nevada is undecided but leaning blue.

As the counting continued in those four states, stars were closely monitoring who was ahead and urged people to check that their ballots were received and processed.

Jeffrey Wright remained hopeful, writing, "Biden trailing now in Georgia by only 18,540 with 96 percent reporting and HEAVILY Dem counties with the most votes outstanding. The numbers are there for him."

Meanwhile Biden tweeted early Thursday morning that the votes should be counted while Trump tweeted, in all caps, "stop the count." Giving remarks in Wilmington, Delaware in the afternoon, Biden said, "Democracy's sometimes risky. It sometimes requires a little patience as well. That patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a sister of governance that has been the envy of the world. The senator and I continue to feel very good about where things stand. We have no doubt that when the count is finished, the senator and I will be declared the winners. So I ask everyone to stay calm."

He added, "The process is working. The count is being completed. And we'll know very soon."

Trump also gave remarks from the White House Wednesday where he continued to argue that there is possible voter fraud resulting in a rigged election. "If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can easily try to steal the election from us... I've already decisively won many critical states," he said citing Florida, Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio as examples.

Though he said there was no "blue wave" as "predicted," Trump said he will continue "to defend the integrity of the election" and he believes he will "win the election very easily." "It will end up at the highest court in the land, we'll see," he said.

Earlier Wednesday night, Hollywood stars took to social media to echo Biden's message of calm and offer their own statements of support and hope.

Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi wrote, "Honestly, we could still take the Senate, once the outstanding 20 million votes are counted. Choosing the 'audacity of hope' today." Rihanna also urged all the votes to be counted.

Common shared subtle message of hope writing, "Have.Faith." John Legend also expressed a hopeful message said, "Y’all it’s almost over. We can ignore this idiot and change the nuclear codes in the not too distant future. We’ve still got big problems (the fucking senate!) but we’re very close to crossing this gargantuan one off the list. Count the votes." Eva Longoria wrote, "Leaders are chosen by the people. That means for a true democracy to work, every vote must count. Keep calm and count on."

Emmy Rossum stated that she's "cautiously optimistic" and emphasized that "the work doesn’t end after the race is called." "We double down. We volunteer, we reach out, we donate, we learn, we fight until our government is a true representation of everyone in America," she wrote. 

The Black List founder Franklin Leonard also shared his thoughts, writing, "I am willing to be involved in a Truman Show style situation where we allow Trump to believe we made him dictator for life and it’s just a studio in Burbank."

"While we wait for every vote to be counted and election results to be announced there’s still something you can do right now to help," urged Kerry Washington. "Volunteer with the crucial battleground states to help cure ballots and make sure every eligible vote is counted."

Debra Messing was hopeful in her message of support. "Joe Biden has SURPASSED Barack Obama as the highest/largest Popular Vote in modern history and they are STILL COUNTING!" Paul Feig also expressed his happiness to a Biden update as he wrote, "I'm going to cry. Tears of Joy."

On Jimmy Kimmel Live! Wednesday night, the host clarified that although nothing is official yet, he believes Biden is leaning toward a victory with the electoral college. "All signs are pointing to a Joe Biden win. Everyone seems to know it — everyone except for Donald Trump!"

Kimmel also mentioned how Trump has claimed victories that are undecided, such as North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Georgia. "You can’t claim the votes," said the late-night host. "This is the Electoral College, it’s not baggage at an airport carousel." Kimmel later said that he is "very happy — and relieved — that it looks like we’re finally sending this monster back to Mar-A-Lago - but I’m also... shocked that it was this close."

Others mocked Trump claiming the votes, with Stephen Colbert "claiming" the title of "Sexiest Man Alive" and Samantha Bee's Full Frontal claiming the 2021 Emmy.

Though hopeful, other stars also expressed their impatience for the final election results.

"I guess we’re waiting to find out if this is the end of Avengers: Infinity War or Avengers: Endgame," wrote Jimmy Kimmel on Twitter. Keke Palmer simply wrote, "Shit I'm tired of waiting." Josh Gad wrote, "We are all going to need colonoscopies after this election."

On her Full Frontal show Wednesday night, host Samantha Bee told viewers, "Welcome to who the hell knows what's going on." "Our long national nightmare is still going," she said. Though she said she feared a "funeral of democracy," she emphasized that every vote must be counted "in order to protect our democracy."

Many stars such as Julie Klausner, Lynda Carter and Matthew A. Cherry posted gifs on Twitter with various captions alluding to feelings of hope or intense focus on the impending result.

Earlier in the day, Biden spoke in a brief press conference. "Yesterday once again proved that democracy is the heartbeat of this nation,” he said. “Our government of, by, and for the people is very much alive, very much alive in America." In a show of quiet confidence, he said, "I am here to report that when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners."

If elected, he vowed to "put the harsh rhetoric of the campaign behind us, to lower the temperature, to see each other again, to listen to one another, to hear each other again and respect and care for one another."

Trump was projected by the Associated Press to be the winner of the battleground states of Florida and Texas along with Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.

Biden took California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

Maine and Nebraska were split with Biden winning three of Maine's four electoral votes and Trump taking one and Trump winning four of Nebraska's five electoral votes and Biden taking one.

Currently, Biden has 264 electoral votes, while Trump has 214. As of Wednesday evening, the Associated Press reported that neither candidate had enough votes in the electoral college to secure a win. Biden, however, has received more votes than any presidential candidate in U.S. history, with more than 71 million ballots cast for the Democratic ticket.

Unlike in previous years, states were contending with a surplus of mail-in ballots driven by the global pandemic. In usual circumstances the counting of votes extends past Election Day, but with so many mail-in ballots and close races in key states this year, counting is expected to take more time.